Safely Dispose of Techno Gadgets

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Technology gets old – it’s just the way it works (or stops working). So what do you do with it when it’s time for a new laptop or cell phone? Unless you’ve got one of the new biodegradable cell phones, you probably don’t want to chuck all that plastic and silicon into a landfill where it will probably sit for the next few thousand years. So what are your options for recycling your technology?

The first place you should check out is the EPA website for an extensive list of companies that allow you to recycle your e-waste in various ways, whether through take-backs, mail-ins, or even trade-in incentive programs. Among the companies listed is Office Depot, which applies a two-dollar cash award to your rewards card for each printer ink cartridge you turn in (although you may also want to look into refilling your used cartridges). Sprint, also listed there, has a “Buy Back” program that gives Sprint customers an account credit for returning select Sprint or Nextel phones. The website also has links to places that you can recycle electronic devices like computers, printers, TVs, and monitors.

To check if you should sell or just donate your used technology, enter the make and model number on the site www.usell.com. After answering a few of their questions about the device’s condition, they provide you with a list of available options for selling or recycling it in your area. Accounts are free to sign up for and you can make a considerable amount of cash back for your old devices.

If you want to support the earth as well as the men and women serving in the military, check out www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com. This program takes donations of old phones and provides soldiers stationed overseas with calling cards that allow them to connect with their families back home. Visit the site and click “Donate a Phone” to get a pre-paid mailing label, or find a local drop site in your area.

Before you recycle any of your old computers or phones, though, you will want to make sure your personal data has been removed. Log out of all accounts on the device, and then use the “factory reset” function to restore the device to its original setting. If you have a phone with a SIM card that you aren’t transferring, destroy it by stepping on it or chopping it up with scissors.

If you have more than just technology that you want to recycle, you can always donate locally to charities like the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Many of them are e-waste certified, so they can properly dispose of any gadgets that aren’t reusable. And the proceeds from the sale of devices donated to these organizations help families in need in your local community. Additionally, any donations are tax-deductible. Go to www.salvationarmy.org and follow the locations link on the left side of the page or http://locator.goodwill.org to locate a drop-off center near you.

Before you take any of these steps, one of the best ways to help the environment with your tech devices is to consider waiting before you go buy the latest gadget. It’s always hard to pass up the shiniest new model, but holding out for a while allows the manufacturer to work out any kinks in the product, plus the longer you wait to get a new gadget, the less waste you’ll end up producing. And of course the price will no doubt decrease as new versions of the product come out. The adage “patience is a virtue” rings true, even in a fast-paced technological society!

Article by Andrea Eldridge, CEO of Nerds On Call, which offers onsite computer and laptop repair to homeowners and small businesses. Based in Redding, Calif., it has locations in five states. Contact Eldridge at www.callnerds.com/andrea.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.